7,000,000,000: Too Many?
According to the United Nations, while you were prepping for your Halloween parties or getting ready to grab candy from those pesky trick-or-treaters on October 31, 2011, the seven billionth person popped out into our world. That’s right, we could now have seven billion people living on this earth. How ridiculously mind-boggling is that? I mean, if you took 7 billion steps you could walk around the world 133 times. What is more surprising is the rate at which we have reached this number. Seven billion is more that double the Earth’s population fifty years ago, and it has only been 12 years since we hit 6 billion.
Of course, there are varying opinions on the specific number, as the US Census Bureau predicts that the seven billionth baby will not arrive until about March of 2012. Yet it still amazes me that our global population is reaching (or has reached) such an epic number. But I must ask you… is this a cause for celebration or concern?
Some may wonder if the earth can hold us all. Well, space is not an issue at all. If we all stood shoulder to shoulder, we would just about fill the city of Los Angeles. So don’t you worry your pretty little claustrophobic head about that. No, the main issue here is balance.
This seven-billionth person could live in relative prosperity and security, or in poverty and uncertainty. In reality, it is much more likely that he or she will not end up in the best of situations, because most current population growth is occurring within less developed and less prosperous nations. As more people inhabit this planet there is a smaller chance that each and every individual will have the opportunity to obtain happiness and success, as overpopulation can lead to fewer resources and less stability for each individual person.
Here are a few statistics for you to put things in perspective. According to the UN’s Human Development Report, the wealthiest 20% of the world’s population owns 75% of world income, while the poorest 40% owns 5%. Moreover, National Geographic Magazine reports that 5% of us consume 23% of the world’s energy, 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Now, I know you have probably come across these numbers before, but with the continued rise of our population, these issues need to be brought into the spotlight.
But, please, do not fret. With 7 billion people, we have 7 billion sources of ideas and 7 billion opportunities for innovation. In today’s ever-shrinking world, these 7 billion people can come together, share thoughts, and overcome the problems that plague this globe. We might be on our seven billionth step towards doom… who knows? But there is hope in the human potential and spirit that has brought us this far.